I had the opportunity to meet with, and then hear a true servant leader speak on Friday. His name is John Turnipseed and he works for Urban Ventures in South Minneapolis, MN.

John is an individual that had an extremely rough childhood and early adult life in South Minneapolis. About as bad as anything I can ever imagine. You can read about his story and listen to an interview with him at this link: http://www.turnipseedfilm.com/john.html

John is obviously not proud of his past, but with God now in his life, he has set out and dedicated himself to making a positive difference by not only breaking the negative cycle in his own family, but also by helping hundreds of families that he touches and works with every year. John is the Director of the Center for Fathering at Urban Ventures. 

As John describes it, a family without a father is like a home without a roof. As he said, even if you have a leak in your roof, if left unattended it can lead to a disastrous situation. This he claims is what it is like for families without fathers, or with part-time fathers. So John works with men to help them learn about male responsibility and receive new role models and accountability. He teaches men parental direction and encourages them to become personally and financially responsible for their children and family.

Urban Ventures mission statement is to: “Break the cycle of generational poverty in our community one person, one family at a time”. Their strategy is to provide faith-based programs that build and strengthen individual character, family relationships, and education and job readiness. They do that in a number of ways that include:

  • Learning Lab: after school education
  • The Hub: teen mentoring programs
  • Urban Stars Sports: team sports
  • Center for Fathering and My Family: parenting classes
  • Ready? Set! Work…and CityKid Java: job readiness

Urban Ventures (www.urbanventures.org/) is an organization focused on service and the greater good in society, as is their staff including John Turnipseed who is clearly a servant leader. John has been nationally recognized for his work and results, which is well deserved. If you would like to learn more about John’s story you can listen to a longer interview with him here: http://www.tpt.org/?a=programs&id=18006

We can definitely learn from John. No matter what our past, it is never too late to analyze your personal purpose in life and get intentional about leading a life of service to the greater good of society. Whatever your experiences have been, you can use them as learning to enable you to be that much more effective in your servant leadership efforts.

I applaud John Turnipseed and Urban Ventures for the fabulous work they are doing. They are having a significant positive impact on the lives that they touch that will have a profound impact for many generations. We all have that same opportunity within our sphere of influence. Let’s get intentional about it!

As mentioned last week, please continue to share your stories of servant leadership so that the rest of us can learn from them as well.

Mark Deterding